Rolla artist makes lost items found

ROLLA, B.C. – Using scrap metal and found objects from around his family farm, Karl Mattson is creating a uniq…

ROLLA, B.C. – Using scrap metal and found objects from around his family farm, Karl Mattson is creating a unique series focusing on the impact of the oil and gas industry.

Mattson grew up in Rolla on a farm his family had for five generations. It’s that upbringing that shaped his style and his values.

“I was fortunate to have parents that allowed me to have creative freedom growing up. The farm was a real advantage for my style of sculpture because I learned how to weld and do basic cutting and bending and all that stuff,” says Mattson.

He also credits the vast landscape that is full of jewels for creating his art.

“I’ve always been a bit of a treasure hunter, scavenger type character, so I use a lot of scrap and found objects which are kind of abundant out here.”

The theme of Mattson’s work in the last few years examines the question of what impacts the oil and gas industry is having on rural British Columbia.

“My art took a shift when my daughter was about to be born. There were quite a few gas leaks and stuff going on, so I started to learn a lot about what’s been happening here.”

Mattson says a pipeline just a stone’s throw from his farm pumps sour gas, and while he’s not anti-industry, he worries about the risks.

“It’s a slow, steady march of industry in farming areas, and that comes with a lot of underlying issues that we sometimes take for granted, like health and environmental issues.”

During an existential period of his life, Mattson was questioning himself on a deeper level. He created a series of Life Pods, complete with communication devices. A unique metaphor for his emotions and a possible look into the future.

“I was working with the idea of breathing and dealing with communication, more on an ethereal level.”

Stemming from the Life Pod series, Mattson created a giant eight-foot-tall female figure called “Lost”.

After spending a year as a prominent centrepiece of a traffic circle in downtown Penticton, Lost is permanently on display overlooking the Okanagan.

Now that Lost is found, Mattson is already working on a second piece for a customer in Calgary, taking into consideration the feedback he got on the first Lost sculpture.

“It’s meant to be lit on fire. I had a few events where you could write messages, and you could fuel the fire inside her head with them, and that was quite popular. I’m going to do that with the next one, but I’ll plumb in proper gas lines so that it can be lit up remotely.”

Mattson’s work has been displayed all over British Columbia, including Naramata, Prince George, Penticton, Dawson Creek, Vancouver, and Williams Lake.

For more of Mattson’s work, go to his website.

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